PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island health official who was arrested and charged last week with possession of child pornography and child erotica has died, Target 12 has confirmed.

Jeffrey Hill, 46, of South Kingstown, was arrested and charged with the criminal offenses last week. His death was announced in an email Monday by interim health director Dr. James McDonald to R.I. Health Department staff. Hill most recently served as head of the department’s violence and injury prevention program.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I am sharing the news of the recent unexpected passing of our colleague and friend, Jeff Hill,” McDonald wrote in the email, adding that the department will be offering counseling to employees.

Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said the state’s medical examiner is currently investigating the cause of Hill’s death, which was first reported by The Boston Globe.

According to court documents, Hill was arraigned last week and released on $5,000 surety bail. A Washington County District Court judge ordered him to only use internet for business purposes and to have no unsupervised contact with children under 18.

The investigation began with a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in March, State Police Maj. Robert Creamer told Target 12. He said the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the tip, which ultimately resulted in a search warrant of Hill’s home last week.

“At times like this, I tend to focus on positive past memories, which can provide some comfort,” McDonald wrote. “I also have noticed as I work through my own grieving, I often find more in my life to be thankful for and more perspective on the challenges that others face every day that I am not aware of. I ask staff to reflect in the manner that seems most appropriate for you, the grief Jeff’s family is experiencing as they mourn this unexpected tragic event.”

On the Health Department’s website, state officials list the following information for anyone who is experiencing a personal crisis:

  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK: (800) 273-8255
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.